7 Things Not To Do On Your Gap Year: Thailand

This beautiful country is arguably one of the most sort after destinations on a students’ travel list, and with its crystal waters, thriving culture and hot weather it’s not surprising. However, Thailand does have some strict laws and if you’re thinking of visiting for any period of time, it’s important to be aware of them to avoid getting into trouble. Of course, most people are respectful when they visit other countries, so the likelihood of anyone getting arrested is very low – but it’s important to be aware of some of Thailand’s laws just to be safe.

1. Do not disrespect the King – Lese Majeste, one of Thailand’s strictest and most important laws for tourists to bear in mind. You may have heard in the news recently about a Thai worker who currently faces a prison sentence for posting a picture on Facebook ‘mocking the King’s dog’ which apparently still counts as a direct affront to the king. Disrespecting the King can be done in many ways according to the government as the Lese Majeste law is rather sweeping. So the best way to avoid falling foul of the law is to avoid posting/talking about the royal family- ie. if you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. Also, don’t deface any pictures of the King, including on money as breaking this law can be punished by a 3-15 year prison sentence.


2. Do not partake in drug use. Thailand has very harsh drug laws and the popular travelling areas usually house a fair few undercover police officers. If you are caught with drugs on your person you will be arrested and could face a prison sentence. If you are caught with more than 20 grams of drugs, the police will view that as intent to distribute and you could be liable to face the death sentence- I’m not kidding.

3. No drinking in places of worship, public parks or petrol stations. This one is fair to be honest and if you’re caught drinking in a Thai place of worship then I’d say you deserve the fine. You wouldn’t drink is a Mosque so don’t do it in a Temple. Also, who drinks at a petrol station anyway?

4. Do not forget your passport. You must carry your passport with you at all times. Tourists have been arrested for not being able to produce their passport when asked by the police. Another important thing to note is that the state of your passport does matter in Thailand, so if yours looks dog-eared or there’s a page missing it’s possible you may get into trouble.

5. Do not litter in Bangkok – the penalty is a hefty fine. This law is pretty fair and there are places in England where you can be fined for littering too, so it’s no excuse if you’re caught doing it in Bangkok.


6. Sacrilege of Buddhist icons can be punished by a prison sentence. Again this one is about respect really. You wouldn’t spit on the Bible in a Catholic country, just as you wouldn’t do the same to the Torah in Israel, so I doubt any Nottingham students will fall foul of that one.

7. Do not drive a car while shirtless. It’s not often enforced and when it is the penalty is usually just a slap on the wrist, but this is something to bear in mind so that you don’t offend people.

Natalie Mallory

Featured image by Mike Behnken, Embedded images by melenama and Nicolas Vollmer via Flickr 

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